CINCINNATI -- Dealing with a strained teres major muscle near his left shoulder since he was placed on the disabled list on April 16, lefty starter Brandon Finnegan never expected to be out as long as he has.
"I thought it was going to be a little, quick 10-day thing and start throwing again and be back in a couple of weeks, but it definitely took a lot longer than I expected," Finnegan said on Monday. "They're just being smart. Can't be mad at them for that. I feel good, though. That's all that matters."
On Tuesday, Finnegan took an important step, throwing 21 pitches from a mound for the first time in a bullpen session. After a few days off, he will advance to 35 pitches on Saturday.
He hopes that his rehab program will accelerate from there.
"Today was definitely a big step forward for me," Finnegan said Tuesday. "It's definitely going to tell me how I actually felt. Playing catch can only tell you so much, so getting off the mound was a huge difference. And I still didn't feel anything, so I can definitely see it coming. It's just a matter of when."
Finnegan is one of three injured pitchers who were being counted upon to make large contributions to the rotation. But he made just three starts, with a 2.70 ERA; Homer Bailey (bone chips in right elbow) and Anthony DeSclafani (sprained ulnar collateral ligament in right elbow) have yet to pitch this season.
"If everything goes well, we'll be able to continue on with his rehab, throwing and getting closer to getting him into games and getting back here sometime in June, hopefully back in our rotation," manager Bryan Price said of Finnegan.
Although DeSclafani isn't due back until after the All-Star break, Bailey and Finnegan could both return soon to boost a rotation badly in need of reinforcements.
"They're very, very close," Price said. "Then again, take it with a grain of salt. [Finnegan could return] somewhere between [June] 19 and 24. That would be terrific. He might be a little later than that, just because he's just getting off the mound. It's not unrealistic to think we'll see them both in the month of June."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.